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Natural Insect RepellentEven here in San Diego, we’re seeing stories on the news about how this summer is going to be the worst on record for ticks. Summer also brings more fleas, mosquitos, flies and other tiny critters that you really don’t want biting you. Given the number of pathogens that any of these bugs can carry, prevention is key in avoiding the bites in the first place. Many people want to avoid the toxic effects of chemicals such as DEET for their family, and want an effective, natural insect repellent instead. I have a great one for you!

Before we get to that, let’s talk about other ways to prevent insect bites and monitor tick bites. Firstly, don’t give the bugs access to all of your skin. I know it’s hard in summer when the temperatures are up and you want to be in shorts and a t-shirt, but if you’re hiking, or camping, consider wearing long pants and long sleeves, even in very lightweight fabric, to provide a physical barrier to your skin.

The other point is to do tick checks every single day. Remember that many of the ticks that cause Lyme disease are teeny-tiny, so they may just look like a freckle on your skin. They may be near impossible to visualize at all. But try. Check the groin, hair, armpits – all the hidey places they may find, they love those spots. Check your kids consistently.

Finally, use an insect repellent. Depending on your exposure, you may choose different ones at different times. I have a patient who lives in California but spends time every summer on Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island, NY. I’m not gonna lie, she and I talked about her using DEET when she’s there because it’s tick central, and sometimes you just have to pull out the big guns. That was her comfort level and I was ok with it.

Generally speaking though, I’m a fan of a natural insect repellent called TerraShield. It’s an essential oil blend, made by dōTERRA; it comes in a handy-dandy 30mL spray bottle, and it works beautifully. We were in the Dominican Republic last January, and Mexico this past January – both places with lots of mosquitos and some viral concerns. We used the Terrashield and didn’t have one bite. I have also run in the national park in Noosa, Australia, which gives me some concerns about ticks, but using Terrashield, and staying away from direct contact with the brush, again not one bite of any kind. It’s perfect for travel not being too big, and being in the spray bottle already, and can be used on kids and adults alike. You can also spray grass areas with Terrashield and use it on pets (remember with them, as with kids, a little bit goes a long way). Terrashield also comes in a 15mL bottle for those who want to have a blend to diffuse; that’s a good option for indoors and smaller outdoor areas.

Terrashield contains the following oils:

  • Ylang Ylang
  • Cedarwood
  • Catnip
  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Litsea
  • Arborvitae
  • Nootka
  • Vanilla bean absolute

I love the Terrashield the way it is, but I also know of people who add other oils to it.  Here’s another recipe:

  • 4 oz glass bottle
  • 20 drops dōTERRA Terrashield
  • 15 drops dōTERRA Lemongrass
  • 15 drops dōTERRA Eucalyptus
  • 15 drops dōTERRA Geranium
    Fill with distilled water.
    Shake and spray.

You don’t want to feel like a hermit in the summer, that you can’t go outside because of the risk of bites. But it is important to be prudent and prepared. If you want to grab some Terrashield, you can buy it here; or email me if you want me to help you get it at wholesale prices.

My final word is this. Any flu-like symptoms that arise in your family this summer, evaluate critically for ticks. Where were you in the past week, were you hiking, camping, sitting on the grass in the park? Is everyone getting sick or just one person (regular flu is quite contagious, Lyme flu won’t be contagious unless everyone got bit and has their own version of it). Check the skin thoroughly for any sign of rashes even if they don’t look like the textbook Bull’s eye. I have so many patients that can look back and see the beginnings of their illness in what they assumed was a normal, viral flu. It’s hard to know what to do – is it really justified taking antibiotics for a flu that could be just a virus? There’s no right answer to that, but being vigilant on the clues can help to ascertain whether flu-like symptoms could be acute Lyme or not.

The Terrashield is the best natural option I have found so far. I have one in my home, one in my travel kit, and one in our picnic basket, and we’ll use it on all of us, even just for a picnic in our local park, which is 5 minutes from downtown San Diego. Insect bites can be annoying and itchy at best, and disease-causing at worst, so either way, better safe than sorry!

ps. Here is an story about using essential oils for repelling insects that was on the news in Minnesota.

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